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Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillars

Cliff Sadof, Extension Entomologist

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Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillars Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillars
Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillars

Now is the time of year when mid summer caterpillars start doing their damage (eg. yellow necked caterpillar, catalpa worms, orange striped oak worms). One of these caterpillars, the Hickory tussock moth (aka Hickory tiger moth Lophocampa caryae) has been reported in several locations. This white fuzzy caterpillar feeds in groups just like the fall webworm, but it lacks the extensive webbing. The Hickory tussock moth has one generation a year and can cause extensive defoliation when it reaches critical numbers. When large numbers are found I recommend controlling it with BT or Sevin, or simply hand picking.

These photos were taken in the morning between 7:30 and 7:45 AM on 13 July 2001, on a red elm in my back yard. When I returned at 8:15 to collect some larvae to preserve for my collection, I found all but two caterpillars to be gone. I suspect that some lucky bird started picking them off the branch. I don't think he got all of them since these caterpillars will readily drop from branches on silks to escape predation.

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Last updated: 16 July 2001/tlm.
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University.